Fostering Professional Growth In Recruitment (& Beyond)

Fostering Professional Growth In Recruitment (& Beyond)

Today's job seekers expect their employers to provide the support and tools to perform their current roles well and achieve their long-term goals. Nonprofits will be best suited to compete for top talent if they begin fostering professional growth during their recruitment efforts and continue to do so throughout the employee lifecycle. In this article, we’ll walk through four tips for doing just that: 

  1. Recognize professional development as a major driver in attracting talent. 
  2. Assess the effectiveness of current educational offerings.
  3. Connect individuals with potential career paths.
  4. Promote your learning and development programs to both internal and external audiences. 

Building a culture focused on ongoing learning and promoting from within will create an organizational brand that attracts the best talent and maximizes employee potential. 

  1. Recognize professional development as a major driver in attracting talent. 

A lack of career advancement is one of the most frequently cited reasons for people leaving their jobs. Research from LinkedIn shows that most employees believe their current employer does not do enough to encourage learning and promote their career aspirations, and, according to Gallup, close to a majority would leave their current position for a more supportive environment.

Employees want to work for an organization whose culture supports learning and development and recognizes the mutual benefit of providing training and growth opportunities. As an employer, you reap the rewards of a productive, well-trained, engaged, and motivated workforce. From an individual perspective, team members feel valued and supported on their journey to reaching their goals. 

Nonprofits that overlook their staff’s potential miss out on hidden skills and aptitudes and will likely lose team members to other employers. When your organization has a culture of developing people, you attract and retain the best talent

  1. Assess the effectiveness of current educational offerings. 

Before showcasing your professional development philosophy, review your current strategy and programs. Determine if they mirror your values and culture. Consider whether candidates will view them as incentives, and update your programs to incorporate creative learning modes. 

Advances in technology have moved us away from the traditional classroom-style training session. Webinars, online platforms, and videos provide practical ways to deliver educational materials while allowing employees to choose the time and place to absorb the information. 

Nonprofits should also leverage the expertise they have in-house. Establish ongoing mentorship and coaching initiatives. Match experienced staff members with colleagues to serve as guides or sounding boards. In smaller organizations, these roles may be filled by supervisors and managers. 

Knowledge sharing can also occur in informal settings during lunch and learn sessions. Invite team members from various departments and disciplines to encourage a better understanding of what individuals do across the organization and spark new interests. 

  1. Connect individuals with potential career paths.

Employees want to be able to envision their way forward with your organization. Progression mapping in job descriptions is a best practice and one way to do this. However, rigid pathways may not always be the best fit for individual employees, so be prepared to explore a variety of avenues. 

Meet with each employee to outline a professional development plan that matches their interests and aspirations. In addition to new competency training, developmental plans should include internships and lateral moves to other areas of the organization where employees can acquire new skills and experiences that will lead to upward mobility. 

Employees will recognize and appreciate the specificity of their unique plan, which will engender greater engagement and organizational loyalty. Employees who feel good about your organization are excellent recruitment resources. They are more likely to refer friends and family for open positions. 

  1. Promote your learning and development programs to both internal and external audiences.

Candidates and employees will not be aware of your learning and development programs if you do not publicize them. Embark on a marketing campaign to showcase your growth-focused culture to existing and prospective employees.

Connecting with Candidates

Recruiting efforts should highlight your organization’s commitment to learning and development. Use it as a selling point to attract candidates to apply and accept offers. Integrate information about your philosophy into job postings and discussions with potential candidates as a value-adding perk.

Information about your various opportunities should also be displayed on your nonprofit’s website and social media presence. Candidates researching your organization should be able to understand your commitment to developing talent and promoting from within. 

Connecting with New Hires

Communicating the strength of your learning and professional development strategy does not end once a candidate is hired. Utilize your onboarding process to jump-start individual professional journeys with your organization. 

Beyond introducing new hires to the team and their specific roles, effective onboarding programs also include conversations about tapping into employee strengths and developing other skills of interest for professional and personal growth. Outline opportunities and potential steps for career advancement so new hires can envision how their career with your nonprofit may evolve. 

Connecting with All Employees

Regularly share information that prompts employees to discover more about your learning and development programs. Promote information on internal websites and social media platforms so employees can easily access and engage with your offerings. Share information through various channels because employees find and absorb information differently.

Managers are also an essential part of the equation. Discussions about professional development and upskilling opportunities should not be reserved for annual performance reviews. Managers should communicate frequently with employees about the next steps, such as what the employee needs to achieve to move to a new role or take on more responsibility. 

Learning and development often fall off the radar because we become engrossed in day-to-day operations, but do not let that be an obstacle. Foster a culture where employees are regularly encouraged to participate in learning and skills-building opportunities. Allow for flexibility so employees can incorporate educational and growth objectives into their schedules, making continuing education a norm. 

Building a cohesive, effective workforce is vital to any organization’s success. Still, nonprofits often struggle to secure top talent. By prioritizing professional development from the start of the employer-employee relationship, you will differentiate your nonprofit from the competition. Candidates will view your organization as an employer of choice, and you will be building a stable, productive, and talented workforce. 

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